I preferred to wait for a while after I got the 2012 version of the Shimano Deore M596 brakes in order to see how well they perform on a long run test. Like any other new disc brake, its first performance did not impress me too much. I might mention here some products such as Shimano XTR or Sram X0 which offer excellent performance as soon as you install them on the bike. But I think this is irrelevant, as after all Shimano Deore brakes are a mid-level set offered for a small budget.
Despite the fact that they did not come with standard rotors for this package (SM-RT64), the brakes worked perfectly with the old Shimano 180mm MS-RT53M Centerlock rotors, obviously with resin pads. But, what does perfect mean in this case? The new Deore brakes are among the most aggressive mid-level brakes I have ever had the opportunity to test and they do nothing but confirm me that in 2012 Shimano was simply unbeatable in this chapter of brakes. And this happened especially in entry and mid-level classes. Perfect means strong braking, sometimes maybe even brutal and an excellent lever feel. Pad life is rather short, but you can always afford buying a new set, let’s admit it.
If for the first part of lever travel nothing interesting really happens, as soon as you hit the middle of the travel, the bike freezes. It does it by pulling the brake lever with one finger only! On the other side, on very fast and technical trails, where my attention was fully focused on the track, I sometimes pulled the lever too hard. And this I think is a slight disadvantage because there is no rule for the modulation of this brake, as they are simply barbaric from this point of view. Lever distance from the handlebar lever can be of course adjusted using a small Allen key. If you are into long descents on rather straight trails, you won’t need any other brakes unless you really care about the weight of the entire system.
Even if braking power seems to be delivered by four pistons, we will find only two in the Deore calipers. Made of quality aluminum, levers provide very good grip. However, the mix of aluminum and plastic for the brake lever body cap is not a very inspired choice.
The handlebar mounting bracket is to be appreciated as you only need an Allen key to fit the brakes to the handlebar or remove them. It could be tempting to invert them but it is pointless because they haven’t been designed for such use. Look at the bright side: you won’t have to remove the grips in order to take out the brake.
With an acceptable weight, an almost miraculous price and rare performance for mid-level class brakes, the new Shimano Deore are indeed very good business. With a few comments regarding modulation or plastics used, which anyhow will go unseen, Deore brakes simply dominate our favorites for 2012.
Weight: 484 grams